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Old 06-23-2015, 01:20 PM   #1
Don T OP
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Cool2 Destination Istanbul - strangers is just friends you haven't met yet.

The 25th of May my girlfriend Katrine and I set out on a journey where one of the objectives was to visit Istanbul.

The route and schedule wasn't set but the rough plan before leaving home looked like this:
Fastest route south to The Balkans - follow The Adriatic Coast all the way to Greece - onwards to Turkey - visit/explore Istanbul - back home through Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, Ukraine and Poland.

Katrine and I have traveled together on two wheels many times, but on this trip a few things would be new to both of us.

First of all we didn't bring camping gear. It meant a lot less luggage and this time of year finding vacant accommodation shouldn't be a problem. Besides that accommodation would be cheap in most of the countries on our route.
We did bring sleeping bags though in case someone should offer us a couch to crash on.

Secondly we had installed intercom in our helmets. After more than 20 years with total privacy in my helmet I was curious to try it out on a trip like this.

Last but not least it would be the maiden voyage abroad for the F800GS Katrine bought back in 2013 (her first non Japanese bike) - and as you all know taking a BMW on a longer journey can be... adventures
As the previous 3 years I would be riding my 650 V-Strom.

OK - enough of the introductions - let the journey begin...

Don T screwed with this post 06-23-2015 at 01:49 PM
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Old 06-23-2015, 01:36 PM   #2
Roland44
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OK - enough of the introductions - let the journey begin...
Sounds good, subscribed
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Old 06-23-2015, 01:36 PM   #3
mrpete64
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your v-strom..

Your V-Strom will get you there. I had a 2012. I also had the BMW 800 GS.
I sold the GS in three weeks after I got it. I "hated" the heat on the right side pouring over my delicate white Danish skin.
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Old 06-23-2015, 01:48 PM   #4
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Part 1: Southbound.

We left home early in the morning and 2 hours later after a 45 minutes ferry crossing we hit the German autobahn. No speed limits and light traffic made it easy to cover distance in no time. After lunch we left the autobahn and continued on smaller roads.
Late in the afternoon after a good days riding we arrived in Erfurt where we had taken Mathias (panamericana2012) up on his offer in the Tent Space Thread.

Mathias and his wife Isabella turned out to be excellent hosts and we had a great evening together. They showed us around down town Erfurt, introduced us to "Bernd das Brot" and offered us ice cream from the best vendor in town before making us a tasty BBQ dinner including the famous Thuringian sausage which was really good.

After dinner we shared beers and stories with Mathias mostly as the narrator as he has done some really interesting trips - especially his 9 month/55.000km Pan-American adventure back in 2012/2013.

The next morning Mathias send us off with a hearty breakfast. It had been a real pleasure to get to know him and Isabella. I hope that one day they'll give me the opportunity to repay their hospitality.

It turned out to be an uneventful but nice day of riding.
Early in the evening shortly after crossing the border to Austria we reached the town Wels where we stayed for the night at the charming old brewery "Gösser Brau" that was turned into a hotel.


Breakfast on the ferry to Germany


Passing through the Harz Mountains


Arrived in down town Erfurt


Sight seeing with Mathias and Isabella


Bernd das Brot


Downtown Erfurt


Mathias (with his trusty steed) sending us off in the morning


Southeast Germany x 3






Entering Austria


Gösser Brau


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Old 06-24-2015, 01:25 AM   #5
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Part 2: Entering The Balkans.

In the morning we were back on the bikes early.
As the weather wasn't ideal with showers and low temperatures we avoided altitude as much as possible as we passed through Austria crossing the eastern outskirts of the Alps.

On the south side of the mountains the weather got better and we had a pleasant ride as we entered first Slovenia then Croatia.
It was still early in the afternoon when we arrived at Plitvice Lakes National Park.

We had originally not planned to visit the park, as it should be an extremely crowded place, but Mathias in Erfurt had told us it was worth a visit despite the many tourists.

The night before in Wels I had booked a room at a highly rated guest house inside the park.
The place "Villa Nena" turned out to be a real gem.
It was perfectly located in a quiet and idyllic spot only 100 meters from the highest waterfall and 5 minutes walk from the lower lakes which is the most famous part of the park.

After a quick change of clothes and a drink offered by Nena the landlady we set out to explore the park. We were in for at treat!
The lakes and waterfalls were amazing and there was not nearly as many visitors as we had feared. Often we had the walkways and trails all to our self.

When we several hours later returned to the guest house we were greeted with a lovely dinner and cold beers.

We slept like babies that night.


Passing through Austria




Plitvice Lakes National Park (the first picture is taken 1 minutes walk from Villa Nena)






































Villa Nena's backyard


Nena at work in her kitchen


The bikes tucked in for the night right outside the door


Don T screwed with this post 06-24-2015 at 04:05 AM
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Old 06-24-2015, 04:01 AM   #6
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Part 3: The Adriatic Coast.

We left Plitvice the next morning and continued south until we hit the Adriatic Coast just south of Zadar. From there we follow the coast through Croatia - then Bosnia - then Croatia again.

Late in the afternoon we arrived in Dubrovnik where we check in at a guest house with a view over the harbor.
The place was really nice and the guy who ran the place turned out to be the perfect host. First of all he moved his car to make room for our bikes in his garage. Then he offered us a drink gave us a map of the city and spend 20 minutes explaining the what, where and how's of Dubrovnik. Finally he gave us a lift to the old center of town and told us to call him if we needed help of any kind.

We spend the rest of the day exploring the old town on foot. We had a good time and enjoyed a nice dinner before taking an late evening stroll back to the guest house as dusk settled.


The next day we continued along the coast. First through Montenegro and then into Albania.

This was our first visit to Albania and our initial impression wasn't exactly positive. The people we talked to was nice and friendly, but the country oozed of decay. Especially the emaciated dogs and cats rummaging through piles of garbage along the roads, brought Katrine in a bad mood.
Traffic in Albania was a story in its own. A good example was when we on a freeway outside of Tirana encountered a horse drawn carriage going in the opposite direction in the fast lane.

In the afternoon as we left the coast and headed inland towards the mountains things started to brighten up a bit. Less people meant less garbage and we had the first glimpses of the beautiful countryside that Albania also has to offer.

We called it a day when we reached the town of Gjirokaster which is an UNESCO World heritage site. The old part of the town was really charming and we found a nice (and very cheap) hotel next to the town's only mosque. After a good dinner and a nice evening walk through the winding and steep streets of the old town we hit the sack.


Heading for the coast from Plitvice




The Adriatic Coast in Croatia






The Old Town of Dubrovnik




















The evening stroll back to the guest house








Looking over maps and planning the next days ride on the guest house terrace


Our fantastic host


Katrine having break fast on the terrace


Getting the bikes ready in the morning


One last look back at Dubrovnik


Montenegro




Near the border to Albania


At the hotel in Gjirokaster


The bikes parked just below our balcony


Evening views from the balcony






Gjirokaster








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Old 06-24-2015, 04:47 AM   #7
StinkyCheese
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Great RR and beautiful pictures.

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Old 06-24-2015, 05:25 AM   #8
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Well - it seems as you beat me to it

Will be looking forward to following the rest of this RR as we've litteraly must have passed each other on the way when we went the other way round.
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Old 06-24-2015, 05:27 AM   #9
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Long lost relative perhaps??
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Old 06-24-2015, 05:57 AM   #10
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Thanks for taking us along and sharing all those gorgeous pics
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Old 06-24-2015, 08:41 AM   #11
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Those pictures are amazing!
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Old 06-24-2015, 08:49 AM   #12
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Fantastic! 'Been waiting for this - looking forward to more!
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Old 06-24-2015, 09:03 AM   #13
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Thank you for the positive feed

The pictures so far is just the tip of the iceberg and besides that I have some on-board video for the upcoming episodes that just needs to be shortened/edited.

Much, much more to come -I'll try not to keep you waiting to long...

Cheers
Tonny


PS. El Dudeness - that guy was an exact duplicate of "The King of Ryomgård" to a degree so that it was scary
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Old 06-25-2015, 05:06 AM   #14
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Part 4: The Greek Connection.

A short prelude -
Last year I was contacted by a Greek guy here on Advrider who was planning a trip to Romania with some friends. I had done a lot of off road/enduro riding in Romania every year from 2009 to 2013 and shared some tracks, waypoints and good advice with him.
After he returned from the trip he send me a thanking note saying that the info I had shared with him had been valuable and that if I ever visited Greece he would love to buy me a beer and show me around.
Prior to this trip I contacted him and we agreed to hook up when Katrine and I got to Greece.



We left Gjirokaster early in the morning and before long we crossed the border to Greece. From the border we follow a route suggested by my Greek connection Alex.

The route would show us some of the fantastic scenery and good riding Greece has to offer. The destination for the day was the small secluded village "Agrafa" situated in the mountains of northern Greece. It's only possible to reach the village by gravel and dirt roads - and quite a bit of those when coming from the north as we were.

As we were having lunch in the small mountain town "Metsovo" (another recommendation by Alex) I received a text message from Alex saying that him and his wife were on their way north from Athens to meet up with us in Agrafa.


The rest of the afternoon was spend on really interesting roads that just kept getting smaller and less paved. The last 2 hours of riding was spend entirely with gravel and dirt under the tires. The scenery was fantastic. As this was Katrines first time riding serious gravel/dirt roads on a big bike the going was slow, but she loved it and even the numerous hairpins didn't put her off.

When we finally arrived in Agrafa we were warmly welcomed by Alex and his wife Despoina who waited for us at the terrace of the guest house where he had booked rooms for all of us. After a well deserved dinner and cold beers Alex showed us around Agrafa which is one of his favorite spots in Greece. I understand why. Conversation flowed easily and it was late before we finally called it a day and retired to our rooms after a fantastic day.


Entering Greece




Lunch in the town square of Metsovo






Riding through the mountains of northern Greece












A short video showing how the roads deteriorated


The last part of the days riding
















Alex greeting us on the terrace in Agrafa


Nice guest house




Having an evening stroll


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Old 06-26-2015, 03:00 AM   #15
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Part 5: Greece

We woke to a crisp clear morning in the mountains. After a late breakfast and another walk around Agrafa we hit the road together. Alex and Despoina had invited Katrine and me to come and stay with them in Athens before we continued to Turkey. The first half of the days riding was on small roads - first gravel later tarmac - through the mountains. The last half was mostly on the freeway.
During the ride we had a nice coffee break in the mountains and a lunch stop by the sea.

It was late in the afternoon when we finally arrived in Athens. Alex and Despoina's flat was located right next to the Olympic stadium in the center of town. When the bikes was securely stored away in a garage next door and Katrine and I was installed in the living room we set out with Alex as a guide to explore the ancient city.
It was a wonderful evening and it was late before we got back to the flat.


The next morning after breakfast and an exceptional good cup of coffee I follow Alex to a travelling agency to buy tickets for the evening ferry to Chios. Meanwhile Desponia and Katrine went for a walk around the neighborhood. When everybody was back at the flat we made ready for a day at the beach.
Alex and Despoina had asked some of their friends to join us and soon we were riding through the traffic of Athens. Katrine had decided to be pillion passenger for the day.
On our way to the beach we stopped for an ice cream.
The beach Alex had picked for the day was a small secluded one down the coast from Athens. After a couple of hours on the beach and in the water it was time for lunch. We got back on the bikes and went to a seafood restaurant on the coast.
The food was very good and the company even better. Katrine and I really enjoyed hanging out with our new friends.

After lunch we headed back to Athens to get packed and ready to leave for the ferry.
Alex and Despoina guided us the harbor and we said our farewells on the dock. It was emotional to say goodbye to the people who had so welcome us into their life's and I'm sure that we will meet again.
The boarding procedure was chaotic but before long the bikes were securely parked on the car deck and we had a late night dinner in our allocated seats.
After dinner we settled in for the night crossing.


Chilly morning in Agrafa - waiting for Katrine to get ready for breakfast


Our bikes had got company during the night


Morning walk in Agrafa
















Leaving Agrafa


Continuing on (mostly) smoother roads


Coffee break in the mountains




Lunch by the sea




The helmets was chillin


Arrived in Athens


A night out in Athens












Homemade breakfast with really good coffee


The view from the balcony


Heading for the beach




Ice cream break








Beach time


Lunch in good company


Ready to board the ferry from Piraeus (Athens) to Chios


A late night dinner aboard


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